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Flanders Poppies – How to Grow


The seeds of the Flanders poppy (Papaver rhoeas) had lay dormant on the front lines of France until 1915 when they were disturbed the the soldiers fighting in World War 1 and coincidentally, the weather was perfect conditions for them to germinate.  Every year for the next four, the poppies grew and their flowers lay like a red blanket across the fields on which the soldiers fought.  They also flowered in Turkey when the ANZAC’s landed at Gallipoli.

The flowers of the Flanders poppy are now a poignant reminder of the fallen soldiers on both Remembrance Day (11 November) and on Anzac Day (25 April) in Australia.  They are worn with pride, used in wreaths and sold to raise funds for charities that support returned solders.


Poppies in field_web 2GROWING FLANDERS POPPIES

Flanders poppies are very easy to grow from seed in April.  Choose a full sun position and either do a mass planting or sow in drifts through the garden.  With such a stunning red colour, you can’t have too many in the garden.

Poppy seeds should be sown directly into the garden or pots in which they are to be grown as they don’t like to be moved.  In pots, use a premium potting mix but in the garden, dig through lots of manure and compost so that it is nice and rich.  Level the soil by tamping down gently with something flat and then scatter the seeds over the top.  Cover the seed with a layer of seed raising mix that is only about 2mm thick (not too thick as the seed won’t be able to push through).  Tamp this down again and water with a gentle spray.

Keep the soil damp because if it dries out after the seeds have germinated, they will shrivel up.  Protect the seedlings from snails and as they grow, extend the flowering period by liquid feeding and removing any old flowers.

Pick the poppies as soon as you see the red of the petals showing, even whilst they are partly in bud, as this will ensure they last a long time in a tall vase and will encourage more flowers to grow.

The seedpods may self seed through the garden but the results can be a bit erratic unless the winter is cold.  They can also be collected, stored in an airtight container and then refrigerated for a month before sowing again next April.


Poppies in field_web 3



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